The Wise and the Ways: collecting life and asking why

The Wise and the Ways: collecting life and asking why

audio collection of advice for a good life,
collected on the streets of Berlin – Neukölln, Wedding and Marzahn – and Görlitz

^ ^ ^ click on image to open app ^ ^ ^ listen to advice — in German — by pushing the buttons ^ ^ ^ there are six different advices per button available ^ ^ ^


What do I need to do in order to live a good life?

Since 2013, I have been asking people I randomly meet on the streets of specific neighbourhoods I was invited to what one / I needs to do (or to have, as many people understand it) in order to have or lead a good life.

Until now, I have done this in three former working class neighbourhoods in Berlin (Neukölln, Wedding and Marzahn) and in the desolated city of Görlitz.
In each area, the answers manifested their own priorities, foci and habits of speech – but of course, there are many more similarities than differences.
Specifically health and money were the answers I got most often by far, in all of the places.

From the answers, collected on the street, in bars, cafés and private meetings, I extracted a couple of (sometimes changing) categories:
work & money, health, happiness, advice & decisionmaking, friendship, family and love, peace and freedom.

For each location, I developed site-specifical interactive installations and a performance featuring the advice. In Neukölln, the sound was transmitted via vibrations through the window pane. To get the advice from Neukölln to Wedding, I installed the audio mobile in a shopping trolley. In Marzahn, we wrote the advice on 250 meters of pedestrians walk, in big letters readable from the surrounding flat towers. And in Görlitz, I embedded the advice into the layers of history found in the hotel where the exhibition Zukunftsvisionen took place.


I recorded the answers audio only – no fotos, no videos of the people I talk to. By excluding the image of my counterparts in this social research, subtleties in their intonation become more apparent, the answers seem to be more intimate, and last not least, the imagination of the receptor can become more active.

In the street interactions, I unexpectedly intervene in the everyday (non-) routine of my counterparts, which might lead to a heightened state of awareness for the rest of the day. In the process, through the interactions and answers I get, I am transforming myself, my notion and knowledge of what it takes to lead a good life – and most importantly, as most of the answers are known already, refreshing this knowledge in the actuality of the encounter.

In the shopping trolley, the answers add up to an oracle, with a different answer each time a button is pushed.

Presented in spatial audio installations, a reflective space emerges featuring sometimes philosophical, sometimes stunningly basic truths.


Die Weisen
June 14-16, 2013
Labor: Urbanes Altern / 48 Stunden Neukölln
at Donau Ecke Ganghofer, Neukölln Arcaden and five park benches in Rollbergviertel

The first questions and try-outs of the street encounters were developed in a workshop together with teenage students from a local school.
The visual material used in the first installation also emerged in that workshop.

Die Weisen im Wedding
August 30 – September 15, 2013
OKK and KiezKulturNetz

I carried the advice from Neukölln to Wedding, installed the audio interactively into a shopping trolley and collected more advice in the Soldiner Kiez.

leben sammeln und fragen warum
May – July 2014
Temporäre Kunstprojekte Marzahner Promenade
Galerie M and Communal District of Marzahn-Hellersdorf

With the help of residents of the area, I edited the advice collected in Marzahn into one “recipe” for a good life, consisting of 147 words. Which we then wrote on the pedestrians walk, stretching over a length of 300 meters. To be read from the surrounding apartment towers, in big chalk letters that washed away with the next strong rainfalls.

Görlitzer Weise
Zukunftsvisionen Festival Görlitz
April – May 2015

During the Open Art Lab Residency, I embedded an interactive audio installation into layers of history found in the former Art Deco „Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten“ / „Hotel Haus des Handwerks“ (as it was called in the time of the GDR). Movement sensors were hidden in five objects, causing audio tracks to be played on two identical Grundig radio transistors from the 1980´s.

showing the collection in group exhibitions

2016 “collective”, Haus am Kleistpark, Berlin
2017 Immaterial Collections, Donau Ecke Ganghofer, Berlin